It was time to revisit Kontokosta Winery, with its lovely location overlooking the Long Island Sound, and we found the perfect reason to go there. We recently learned that old friends of ours had bought a house near Greenport, but, what with work on the house and not much time for other activities, had yet to visit a winery. Well, we said, it is high time to remedy that situation, and they were happy to go with Nofowineaux to a winery so close to their house.
Proving that you can’t rely on last year’s review, a major change in the menu switched the Anemometer white and red from their least expensive wines to their priciest—and they weren’t even on the regular tasting menu, but needed a supplement of $5 each to taste. So I can’t tell you if they’re worth it, but many of the other wines are.
The menu offers five whites for $15 or four reds for $15, so we opted to share one of each, and our friends chose to follow our lead. Since it is a carefully metered one-ounce pour, that was fine. They also have a menu of snacks and sweets and non-alcoholic drinks (called “Sound Bites,” a play on their location and their motto of “Sound Wines”), and forbid outside foods.
The tasting room is a high-ceilinged large space, with tables and a bar, where we opted to stand. Considering it is January, we were impressed by how many people were there, but it was a three-day weekend. Our server did a good job of keeping track of where we were in our tasting, and, as she saw our seriousness, began to give us more information on each wine.
- 2014 Orient Chardonnay $22
Like many North Fork tastings, this one began with their steel-fermented chardonnay, which our friend compared to a “non-sweet Limoncello.” Not a bad comparison, since this had plenty of lemon flavor and aroma, plus some nice minerality, and maybe even a salty tang. Good.
- 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $25
As we sniffed the aroma of mango and citrus, one of our friends compared it to “Joe Malone perfume.” Not being familiar, I can’t confirm or deny this, but the wine does have a lovely flowery scent. The taste is equally pleasant, with good grapefruit and pineapple and other tropical fruits, plus mouth-watering acidity. When we comment that this would be good with oysters, a discussion of North Fork oysters and where to get them ensues. When the Old Mill Inn re-opens in the spring, we’ll have to meet there for their happy hour oysters.
- 2014 Viognier $25
Getting into the spirit of commenting on each wine, our friends describe the viognier as “more restrained and less dramatic” than the first two wines, and we agree. The aroma is a bit sweet, with some mineral or rock and maybe a spice. Cinnamon? Nutmeg? We can’t decide. But this is another very drinkable wine, again on the tart, dry side, and would be good with creamy clam chowder.
- 2014 Field Blend $22
63% viognier and 37% sauvignon blanc. Why? Because they had that much of each left over last year, and only one vat in which to ferment them! Nice to be able to drink your experiments, though we don’t like this as much as the previous wines. It is quite light, and smells just like the viognier.
- 2014 Riesling $22
Dry! Just .2% residual sugar, says our server, and we believe her. It tastes more like a sauvignon blanc than their sauvignon blanc, very tart, with lots of acidity. If you like a fruity somewhat sweet riesling, or even if you are thinking of a riesling to complement spicy food, this is not it.
- 2008 Blum Merlot $19
A year ago we had the 07 Blum Merlot, and was told this was the last of it, but I guess they had one more year of these vines before Ray Blum’s vineyard was sold to Sparkling Pointe, which tore out the merlot vines. The aroma has lots of sweet cherry in it, and none of the barnyard which we detected in the 07. Our friend thinks there’s a bit of a whiff of creosote, which is possibly from the French oak it was aged in. It tastes less fruity than it smells, with some woody notes but no vanilla. We get new glasses for the reds, by the way.
- 2013 Estate Merlot $34
We like this merlot much better, and all agree that we taste and smell lots of blackberry, plus minerals and flowers. “Easy on the tongue,” opines our friend. That may be the tannins, since the end taste is quite dry. This one is aged in Hungarian oak, as are the rest of the reds.
- 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $29
As our server pours this, she brings out another bottle and two fresh glasses and pours us another wine, the 2012 Cab Sauv (about which more in a moment). Our friends are impressed with what I call the power of the book. Often, when wineries see you are serious about the wine, they give you a little something extra. Sometimes it is another taste of a wine not on the menu, or other times just some extra attention and more stories about the making of the wine. I appreciate both. We like this one, as it has lots of rich fruit flavors and aromas but is still pleasantly dry.
- 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $29
I should really label this 8A, since it is an “extra.” Our server explains that she thinks we should try this, as there are only a few cases left, and she thinks it is really excellent. She’s right. It is similar to the ’13, but mellower and smoother and fruitier. We buy a bottle.
- 2013 Cabernet Franc $40
“Hmmm,” muses our friend, “I think I detect a note of Robitussin.” Ha ha. But it does taste of dark fruits, perhaps plums, again with some nice minerality and some promising tannins. We get into a discussion of the meaning of “terroir,” and wonder if Kontokosta’s wines have more minerality than some others because of their location on the Sound, which we can see out of the windows.
Reasons to visit: you are in or near Greenport and don’t want to travel too far; almost all of the wines, but especially the Orient Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Estate Merlot, and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (but hurry before they sell out); the location on the Sound (maybe some time we’ll get there in the warm weather so we can stroll towards the water).